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A woman performs a Sinatra song in a Catholic church at a Canadian nursing home.Facebook/Screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — Sacrilege is regularly taking place in the Catholic church of a seniors’ residence in Canada, where a woman belted out Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” in front of the Blessed Sacrament. 

A great-niece of one of the elderly women under the care of St. Elizabeth Village in Hamilton, Ontario explained to LifeSiteNews that secular activities such as music entertainment, meetings for the residents, and “celebrations of life” have been taking place in the Catholic church on site at the community since renovations of other facilities have begun. 

The great-niece, under the pseudonym Marie Smith, pointed out that the current management of the community is not Catholic and consider the church to be a “non-denominational” chapel despite the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, which Catholics understand to be the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine.

St. Elizabeth Village was originally founded by Sister Elisabeth Manhertz, who centered the retirement community around St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, “which she built to give thanks to God,” according to her obituary. However, about 10 years ago, the management of the community was transferred to a secular non-profit, NovaCare Retirement Communities Association, in an agreement with the for-profit corporation that acquired the “village,” ZEST Communities Inc.

Smith has discussed with the general manager of the community her concerns that sacrilege, a serious offense against God, is occurring through the performance of purely secular activities in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Canon law makes clear that in a Catholic Church “(o)nly those things which serve the exercise or promotion of worship, piety, or religion are permitted in a sacred place; anything not consonant with the holiness of the place is forbidden.” (Canon 1210) 

The Baltimore Catechism also points out that “treating any sacred thing with great disrespect” constitutes sacrilege, including by using sacred objects or places for profane uses, such as by “making common use of the sacred vessels used at the altar” or “turning the church into a market, etc.”

However, the general manager of the retirement community is reportedly deferring the issue of ongoing secular activities in the church to Father Mark Gatto, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish church who oversees St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church. 

As Smith explained in a letter to Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, she contacted Gatto by phone, explaining that it is offensive that secular activities are taking place in a Catholic Church. Gatto was reportedly “very defensive” and “repeatedly” asked Smith, “Do you really think it’s offensive to hold meetings in the church to discuss matters that pertain to and are helping the residents?”

Moreover, he reportedly advised Smith to “read the Gospels” and “get back to him and tell him” if she feels the same way after reading the Gospel. Yet, the Gospels tell how Jesus Christ cast out those “that sold and bought in the temple,” and “suffered not that any man should carry a vessel through the temple” (Mark 11:15-16) because it would abuse the sacredness of the temple of God. The very word “sacred” means “set apart” for the service or worship of God.

Gatto said he had to go and hung up just after Smith said she was going to read him canon law on the subject of the permissible uses of a church. Thereafter, she wrote a letter to him reiterating her concerns and citing canon law, and copied the local bishop, Douglas Crosby, OMI, of the Diocese of Hamilton. 

In the letter to Gatto shared with LifeSiteNews, Smith suggested, as Mother Miriam recommended, that “as long as the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church continues to be used as a social hall, then the priority is for the Blessed Sacrament be physically removed from the Tabernacle.”

Gatto responded with no explanation as to why he considers the secular activities there to be permissible. He simply stated, “Obviously I disagree with your take about the chapel,” and, “If we removed the tabernacle, it would become even less a place for the Catholics as it is primarily used for now.”

LifeSiteNews contacted Gatto for comment and to discuss this potential solution to the ongoing sacrilege at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church but has not received a response as of the time of publishing.

Carol Daly, assistant to Bishop Crosby, told Smith by phone, “The bishop is quite pleased with what Gatto has responded to you and as we do not own the building… we cannot put any of those other requirements to the use of the space.”

Respectfully urge that this sacrilege be stopped with communications to:

Father Mark Gatto


[email protected] 

Bishop Douglas Crosby

905-528-7988 Ext. 2222

Email Bishop Crosby here.